Normalcy returned to Richland’s soccer stadium on Aug. 22. Fans and opposition alike sang their hearts out in support of the players. It was a doubleheader. The women and men’s team faced off against a usual foe, Hill College.
The women had the early kickoff. From the onset, the Thunderducks were putting pressure on the Rebels. Wave after wave of attack, the lady T-Ducks were relentless.
Richland broke the deadlock 27 minutes into the game. Claudio Pedroza played a through ball in between the Hill College defenders, Citlali Gonzalez latched onto the pass and duly put it past the goalkeeper to secure a 1-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Richland took off on a good note. They dominated the midfield, winning most of the duels. Miranda Ibarra threatened the Hill College defenders several times with slaloming runs through the midfield.
Around the 64th minute, Hill College conceded a corner. The ball was swung into the box, the Rebels failed to clear their lines. It fell kindly to Leslie Rios and she was on hand to it tap into the net. 2-0 to the Thunderducks.
To round up the game, Asia Revely chipped the onrushing goalkeeper after pouncing on a through pass to seal the victory five minutes from time.
Reflecting on the victory, coach Scott Toups was pleased with his players.
“We were really organized. Our goalkeeping and defense was really good and that set the tone. That allowed us to make some mistakes elsewhere knowing that they had our backs and that they were going to clean up any mess we made.”
Toups particularly praised the efforts of the defenders, Alexis Lawrence, Alexis Jordan and Miranda Ibarra, for a brilliant showing in the game
“They [Hill College] had no answers for those three back there. I knew all three were good, I just didn’t know they were going to be that good today,” Toups said
Ibarra, a sophomore, was assertive and dominant in the victory. She attributed the confidence to experience.
“It was pretty good for our first real game. Defending was the best. I think we all had the same working rate. Sometimes last year we were off. Last year I was too scared to dribble. I guess just being a sophomore [gave me the confidence to dribble]”, Ibarra said.
Toups is not getting ahead of himself and is wary of the battles that lie ahead.
“It gets harder the next few games. The girls are excited because they got a first win but at the end of the day we know it’s going to get harder from here. So, we’ll just keep improving and keep getting more and more fit. We should be OK, though,” he said.